I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Gimme Shelter. I knew that it starred Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Hudgens, and Vanessa Hudgens’ East Coast accent in the true story of a poverty-stricken teen who finds out that she is pregnant at the same time that she becomes homeless. But I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of all of that because the person who’d be playing this role would be a former-Disney kid whose acting range thus far has pretty much been being adorable in the High School Musical franchise. So, that’s why I was really very pleasantly surprised when Vanessa pulled out all of the stops for Gimme Shelter and wowed the pants clear off of me. She was that good. So good that her drawing-Mickey-Mouse-ears-with-a-wand days were but a distant memory, which I’m sure is exactly her goal when accepting roles these days. That’s why every kid star (including her younger self) should sit back and take this one note: projects like this, not scandals, are your ticket out of child stardom.
If you couldn’t already guess, this movie is completely heartbreaking. I cried a million times, which is a lot even for me and I’m a literal bucket of water. Don’t ask how a bucket of water has hands to type, because that’s a story for another day or maybe never. But what I will tell you is that this movie made my opinion of Vanessa do a 180. Actually, it gave me an opinion of her because, with the exception of my personal game of What Will Vanessa Hudgens Wear To Coachella Today, I didn’t really care about her all that much. But now I’m pretty excited to see what projects she has coming out next because I want to go see them. I want for them to play on a movie screen and for my eyes take pictures for my brain to enjoy. Crazy, I know. But that’s the power of a great performance in an equally good movie.
I should clarify that her role in Spring Breakers isn’t the kind of thing I’m talking about at all. As a Never Child Star, myself, I have some sage advice for all of the Scandalous Stars To-Be of the world. Trying to shock people into believing that you’re a grown up with mature talent isn’t the same thing as convincing them that you are. Selena Gomez holding a gun and saying curse words didn’t make me see her as less of a wittle baby. Neither did any of Young Hollywood’s sex scandals in the history of ever or Miley Cyrus doing… whatever it is that she spent 2013 doing. But the second that I left the theater after this movie, I felt like I had just watched a real actor onscreen for two hours instead of a child star who I couldn’t take seriously. And all it took was a complete physical overhaul, a devastating plot, and an appearance opposite a scary-toothed Rosario Dawson! Easy peasy.
So, it’s official; Vanessa (let’s work on getting this name a legit nickname, thanks) has been knighted into the club of Good Actors Who I Won’t Laugh At Onscreen. Welcome to the party, Vanessa. We haven’t exactly been expecting you so we’re short a placemat, but we’ll work on getting that to you. Maybe just do one more gripping movie so we’re sure? Actually, never mind, that’s not necessary. This one was more than enough to convince us that you’re officially not just a child star. Also, did Brendan Fraser walk around set in his Tarzan loincloth when the cameras stopped rolling? I sort of figured that he might. I just have so many questions for you. And I suspect we’ll have a lot of time to get answers because if you keep doing movies like this one, you won’t be getting kicked out of this super awesome club anytime soon.
(Image: Roadside Attractions via IMDb)